Medal Of Honor Warfighter review – live as I play it

Medal Of Honor Warfighter PS3 review

[You can read a full Medal Of Honor Warfighter PS3 review here.]

When you don’t get sent a game to review until hours before the embargo, it’s not a good sign. When that game also comes with a day one patch fixing 46 issues, it’s not a good sign. I haven’t actually got any idea what Medal Of Honor is going to be like yet because I’ve not played it. However I’m about to play it, and write it up as I go. Here’s the disk… I’m putting it in the PS3…

Medal Of Honor Warfighter review

Actually wait a sec, lets just look over that day one patch: “Fixed an issue where the default difficulty was set to Easy instead of Normal”. Okay, not a biggie, I can change my own options. “Fixed an issue where controls would become unresponsive under certain conditions”. Hang on, I need controls. They’re my favorite way of playing games. Under any conditions. Definitely fix that. “Made switching between primary and secondary weapons much more responsive.” More responsive? It’s responsive or it isn’t. I don’t want any ambiguity to my choice of gun. I don’t want to ‘think’ about shooting bad guys with my SOPMOD, I want definite, unmistakable SOPMOD action on cue. ”Improved single player stability and fixed progression stoppers”. Wait, ‘progression stoppers’? As in ‘there are bits of the game where the progression stops’? That’s not something to cutely name, that’s something to fix before you think about selling the game. What were they doing over there?

Medal Of Honor warfighter PS3 review “Hey Brett?”
“Yeah?”
“How’s that final build?”
“It’s going great Brad. The progression stops a bit occasionally, there’s an issue with stability and weapon swapping is unresponsive.”
“Okay. Well… ship it. How are the beards doing?”
“Oh we cut the beards. You must have missed the meeting.”
“WHAT?! Screw that. I want beards and I want them now. I don’t care if you have to photoshop a really douchey one on the box, I want facial hair dammit.”

I’m getting away from the point here. Theses issues are being patched but that does assumes everyone has internet access and not everyone does. Anyway, to be clear, apart from the patch issues, I’ve not formed any opinion this yet. I liked the first game so I’ve actually got my fingers crossed as I put the disk in my PlayStation 3 and begin the patching…

9.30pm

The disk is in, the patch warning is up and it’s downloading. All 208MB of it. ETA 4 minutes.

9.35pm

Okay that was a pretty quick download and install for the patch. Now it’s installing on to the hard drive.

Just to reiterate: I have no pre-set opinion here. I liked the last game. I want this to be good. I like war shooters. I like action. I like beards. This should perfect for me.

9.40pm

I’m in! There are logos made of lava and now I’m pressing start to continue.

You guys are missing out: there’s some pretty hot screen size adjustment going on here.

Straight into a level called Unintended Consequences as ‘Preacher’. No wait, it’s Captain Price. I’m going to play for a bit then get back to you.

9.45pm

Okay, weirdest start ever: I’m standing behind an enemy with the crosshairs locked on his head. It says ‘R1 to Fire’. Not sure what they want me to do here.

Okay, shot him. This actually doesn’t look bad visually at the moment – nice rain effects, the silenced pistol has an impact to it. Bit hand-holdy. I’ve been lead to a couple of guards, planted a bomb and then locked in place while watching things explode. No idea what’s going on mind. Pressing start took me straight to a title card saying, “A simple detonation of a small cargo container goes wrong and sets in motion a race to stop global terror”.

Wow, that was fast. Ran a bit, shot some people, blew up a helicopter and prologue level over. Hard to tell much from that. Now watching the hero have a terse phone conversation with his wife. She’s in the car but it’s okay, her dad’s driving.

Moved on to a more army-like talk about targets now. Not with the wife, with another soldier.

9.59pm

Right, now in the tutorial. Explains why the opening was so scripted – just a roller coaster to get things started. I’m actually a terrorist proving my worth to bring the jihad. This is interesting. Reminds me of when Infinity Ward once tried to float the idea of playing some of COD as a German.

The tutorial’s in Arabic with subtitles. Nice.

Really is very COD in the tutorial. Rushed a wooden plane replica all the way to the cockpit taking out targets. Solid cover system lets you peak in and out. Feels okay so far but really is like an older Call Of Duty.

I’ve passed the test! I get to Jihad. Can’t wait to tell mum.

We’re prepping for an attack on pirates. Probably not the ‘Arrr!’ fun kind. “If I don’t make it, give this to my ex wife” says a random soldier holding up his middle finger.

Okay, I’m going to play the first proper level now and check back in when I’m done.

11.01pm

That’s the first level done. Actually a stern fight to get to the beach. You really do have to dig in and use cover. There’s no running and gunning here – clear the area, fight for ground and move on. As a shooter it’s doing the job well – not as arcadey as COD, not as dry as Battlefield. There is an odd visual mix: some buildings and areas look nice, other bits look rough and unfinished.

So far I’ve breached about three doors by kicking them in and taking out enemies on the other side in slow-mo. It’s not exactly original but it works. There’s an interesting unlock system where getting headshots as you breach earns you more options. The first thing I got was a tomahawk although it replaces the one-kick door smash with a slightly embarrassing hacking at the handle with an axe that could have come out a cracker. It took several goes to break the handle off, all while you could hear people shouting on the other side. Smooth.

It was going well to start with but took all of a half hour to wander outside of the map. Things were floating in the air and I couldn’t get back. When I tried to restart the game it froze. Not great. Plus for all the cut scenes so far it’s a little soulless on the character front in action. I’ve no idea who any of these people with me are on the battlefield. I can hear them shouting over the gunfire but none of them stand out. It’s just ‘that guy over there’, ‘the other one’ and ‘slightly different beard man’.

Overall the bits that worked so far I’ve enjoyed, but for all the earlier hand holding there does seem to be a few sections that are frustratingly unclear. Playing as a machine gun drone left me trundling into debris trying to find the route through bits I could move over, and a long distance sniper section required mastering severe bullet drop that wasn’t clearly explained or well indicated, taking a few retries to master – if you messed it up a helicopter got shot down making it a do-over.

11.59pm

Still no idea what’s going on. After the sniper section the game jumped back to the man talking to his wife. Then he’s in a train station in Madrid talking to another man on the phone, apparently about a mission that went bad and messed up Preacher. Then the train explodes. Now we’re watching a man get shot and having a car chase. WHY IS ANY OF THIS HAPPENING?

The car chase is very nearly brilliant but, like the sniper section, the mechanics and demands of the gameplay just aren’t clearly enough explained, making it frustrating to master. There are moments that are almost movie-like as you smash through traffic and bounce off walls around tight corners. But these bits, no matter how exciting, feel accidental. All too often I hit something that didn’t break, or missed a corner and lacked the handling to sort out before losing the target. At points it was exhilarating, other times were more about grinding through checkpoints to advance. There’s even one section that seems to put you in a blocked busy road and asks you to smash though it like a joyrider in a stolen tractor. I did actually catch and ram the escaping man a couple of times but apparently it was before I was supposed to so it didn’t count.

After the car chase there’s more plot epilepsy as we wake up in the hospital having survived the explosion. Then suddenly we’re in a jungle in the Philippines rescuing hostages. It’s not so much confusing as completely disparate and disjointed. Individual sections work okay but it feels like EA are changing the channels on the TV while I’m playing.

1.16am

The hostage mission was good – as a straightforward shooter this is a fairly rewarding challenge. Mostly through a mix of enemies that rush you and others that dig in for some whack-a-mole target chasing. You have to really work areas to clear them out and be careful in order to stay alive. It’s predictable and Christ there’s a lot of door breaches, but it’s engaging enough. The atmosphere of a nighttime rainy, flooding city is also quite strong. It’s still a bit iffy visually but not offensively so. Shame it’s struggled to maintain this consistency up until now, although the missions do seem to be getting longer and settling into a groove. Even the speeding boat driving extraction at the end was enjoyable enough. Bread and butter stuff but with none of the frustration of the earlier car sections

The story is still all over the place but I think it’s something to do with flashback missions and present day stuff leading to some upcoming operation bringing the various characters back together.

1.38am

Inexplicably just played a level that consisted of taking a single shot at some people on a boat. That was it. One press of the trigger and a rousing cut scene. Lasted all of thirty seconds and now I’m chasing someone called Faraz through a sunny Middle Eastern town. It really is an oddly constructed narrative.

2am

Okay the Faraz chase was great. The pursuit forced you to push hard though a well designed level alternating between chasing and clearing areas, creating a nicely tense mix of confrontation and evasion. Not bad at all.

I’m going to pack it in now, It’s late and I don’t want tiredness to cloud my opinion. So far it’s been inconstant with some great levels, some okay and some that either made no sense or just didn’t work. I’d call it about a 60/40 split between the good and the not so good so far.

Wednesday

2.44pm

I’m about to get back into the game. After a night to sleep on it I think Warfighter isn’t a terrible game and I have enjoyed it. The good stuff is basic though – shoot people, take cover, breach a door every 200 yards. The mechanics are functional and if you’re after unspectacular but robust shooting then this does well. It’s when it tries to vary things that it goes of the rails – the driving section was something I really wanted to work. It came so close to being great but just didn’t feel like it had been polished enough with poor signposting and sections that seem to have been left as ‘workable’ rather than acceptable.

There are odd decisions through out. Like the sniper mission that lasts 30 seconds. Why is that even there? 10 minutes of FMV and dialogue, ten seconds waiting for people to appear and then pull the trigger: done. You can’t move or even aim outside the tiny designated circle.

The breeching reward system is odd too. So far I’ve spent my well earned headshots on unlocking a hatchet, a crowbar and a master key shotgun – not one of which can open the door as quickly as the default boot.

I’m about to capture some footage of whatever the next level is post that in about a half hour.

3.50pm

Just finished a long mission that started with a helicopter fly-by, storming a compound and then a shootout through an underground base. It was actually fairly taxing with more enemy movement and, well, more enemies, so it took a lot of carefully placed return fire to get through. It’s about on par with an alright COD at the moment. I know I keep referencing the series but this is what MOH really seems to be trying to capture. Only it’s the old Modern Warfare COD so feels like someone who’s just managed to pass off last season’s look. There also a few odd bits which now seems to be Warfighter’s ‘thing’ – my weapon returning to the default load out after each cut scene no matter how many times I swapped it, for example. I ditched that gun for a reason and it yet kept coming back

Also, seriously, enough with the door breaching. It feels like every five minutes at the moment and there’s still nothing that works better then kicking the door in. Here’s some of the game in action:

4.25pm

There’s another driving level! For some reason, despite this being the third time I’ve had to do it (if you count the boat as a sort of wet car with no wheels) I’m suddenly being told ‘L stick to steer’.

Wait, it’s literally turned into Burnout. Actual Burnout. I’m being chased by cars and every time I ram one  I get a slow-mo shot of it crashing. And by ‘crashing’ I mean stopping in the road.

Wow, It’s actually turned into car stealth. I “can’t outrun” the pursuing vehicles so I’ve got to drive between spaces in a residential area so I can put the car in them to hide. I’m fighting international terrorism by parking! 

PARKING!

I should point out that while I’m quite enjoying all this at no point have I strung together any coherent plot. It’s simply a compilation of nice ideas and basic set ups. Something like  ”Now That’s What I Call A War Shooter 6″.

Well the car driving section ending on a suitably climatic moment – getting out of a multistory car park.

I’ve discovered an interesting design choice or bug. You can’t replace any of your mission weapons, only pick up a third and discard it when you swap back. There’s been a few levels where I haven’t wanted my secondary weapon, or my primary wasn’t fit for the job (a sniper rifle in a close gunfight, say) and having to re-pick up a more useful gun every time I swap is weird.

 

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